What I read in December 2018 (Part 1)

The first two books I read in December 2018 were nonfiction.

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig was on a display in the library for the Costa Book awards. I have not managed to find a connection between this book and the awards shortlist, but perhaps someone can help me here.

The author tweets as @matthaig1 and I had read lots of his Tweets without knowing anything about him. This is a book based on the author’s experience of breakdown and the coping skills he has developed. It is written in short chunks in a manner suitable for readers of any faith or none. I really enjoyed it and can identify with many of the issues.

The effect of social media on people’s lives and mental health is a main topic. Antidotes include a film I have watched recently with my friends from the Ladies’ Bible study group and a book I read in French in recent years, but have failed to record in my list of books I have read! I must be doing something right.

Woodbine Willie: An Unsung Hero of World War One by Bob Holman is a book I borrowed from a friend. She brought it to a prayer meeting to inspire us. I had not heard of Woodbine Willie, whose real name was Reverend Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, so I asked to borrow the book. This year being the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1, it has been difficult to avoid information about battles. History is not my favourite subject, but I am interested in people. This is a book about an extraordinary man. The historical background and the beliefs of the leading churchmen of the time make it an interesting read. I have recommended it to hubby, who enjoys history.

 

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3

Blogging round-up

I was surprised, when I learned that blogs have a natural lifetime. Having blogged for over six years I now understand why this is often the case. It’s a long time since I posted any statistics about my blogging. This post is as much a reminder to me of what I have achieved as an attempt to write about blogging.

This post is a brief history of my blogging life. It is not complete. I hope it is of interest to my readers. I follow too many blogs to read more than a small fraction of the posts, which appear in my WordPress Reader. It is clear from the discrepancy between the number of followers and the number of views, that other people also fail to read blogs they thought they were interested in. (Unless people only follow in the hope of gaining reciprocal followers.)

Sue’s considered trifles began on 23 July 2012. It currently consists of 325 posts and 54 pages, some of which are reviews of books I have read. After about 20 months I slowed down my project to collect together sayings which were familiar to me as a child. This part of my blog is a resource for people setting their books in the middle of the 20th century. No new material for this project has appeared since the end of August 2015. I also posted some of my creative writing to this blog on pages and as posts, when I followed the WordPress BloggingU introduction to poetry course.

I keep the What’s new page up to date.

When I became a bit bored of writing to a formula for Sue’s considered trifles, I started my second blog, Sue’s Trifles on 25 March 2013. I soon discovered blogging challenges and became an enthusiastic blogger. (Previously I was a rather tentative one.) Sue’s Trifles is still my main blog. I have linked up with various challenges, notably Blogging from A to Z in April and WordPress’ Daily prompt from the Daily Post. My aim was to improve my writing skills and to do something enjoyable. I have shared craft projects, real life experiences and book reviews. I hope my blog is not becoming so predictable that the strap-line “Tasty writing surprises (non-fattening)” has ceased to be accurate. If nothing else, readers may be surprised by some of the books I have read! This is the 722nd post.

There are also 16 pages, some of which are out of date. Your favourites and My favourites both need revision.

Two years after starting Sue’s Trifles, I went on an outing with hubby and my new smart phone. In the car on the way home I decided it was time to start another blog. This was Sue’s Words and Pictures, which now has 281 posts and 6 pages. It began on 26 March 2015. Recently my posts to this blog have been less frequent. One or two have not been quite up to my usual standard, perhaps as I have been struggling with seasonal bugs. With a blog of this nature (posting photographs of places visited) there is a limit to how much new material is available. WordPress used to issue a photo challenge each week, providing me with inspiration for short posts between the main posts for which I set the blog up. Once WordPress discontinued their challenges at the end of May 2018, I tried challenges set by other bloggers, but did not have the same enthusiasm for those. It is likely that Sue’s Words and Pictures will slow down at least over the winter.

My excuse for stopping posting new material on Sue’s considered trifles was to concentrate on writing for possible publication. I have to admit that I have made little progress. I have catalogued my poetry and added some new material. I have rediscovered at least one story I wrote years ago, which is possible children’s picture book material. My memoir has had some new input, but I found that writing it made me become rather self-absorbed. I didn’t think that was healthy and took a break. So far I have not returned to it. By entering writing competitions I have gained practice at presenting my work in a format set out in the rules. I have had an article and a poem published in Christian Writer, the magazine of the Association of Christian Writers. I also am privileged to post on the blog More than Writers on the 31st of seven months.

Once again I need to try to consolidate what I have already written, do some research about possible publication routes and try to make good submissions to likely publishers. Otherwise I could take the self-publishing route. However in this instance I regard myself as a team-player rather than someone, who can see a project through from start to finish with little help from others.

If you are a blogger what is your experience of the lifetime of a blog? Have you used blogging as a springboard into publication?

2

About my Twitter anniversary

I have been rather quiet on social media recently due to a week away from home. My Twitter anniversary came as something of a surprise, when it was flagged up to me – not least because I have now been tweeting, twittering or otherwise being a twit for five years. (Photo from Twitter)

Figure five decorated with coloured scrolls and paisley shapes on a pink background

My reasons for joining Twitter may be found in an earlier post.

Why have I continued with Twitter for 5 years? The short answer is that I enjoy Twitter. Although it is known as a place where feelings run high and people are nasty to each other, that has not been my experience.

I follow accounts for news, writers, books, countryside, photography, heritage, nature (especially wildflowers and birds), people I have met offline, church, music, A to Z bloggers, over 40s bloggers and a few random accounts of bloggers. I also ‘follow back’ people, who seem to have something in common with me. Twitter analytics tells me that most of my followers are interested in dogs.

From Twitter I learn lots of things. I do not watch television at home. However the information I find on Twitter for news and weather keeps me up-to-date. My knowledge of the names of wildflowers and some of their characteristics has been helped by #wildflowerhour.

While I was away recently I watched several quiz shows on my hostess’s television. I was amazed how many answers I could guess correctly. I haven’t learned from TV. Twitter and books are my teachers!

When people tweet about TV programmes, I am not particularly interested, but I do become aware of the programmes, which are being shown. At one time I’d have had this information from the Radio Times. Nowadays it is available online.

I keep away from political debate. If something seems to be happening locally, which might be newsworthy, I do not Tweet about the emergency vehicles I have seen. The emergency services need to be able to work without undue attention. Afterwards I might write about something, such as a recent fire. I sometimes retweet other people’s tweets. There has to be a balance about how much one retweets and original posts. Many of my posts alert my followers to blog posts – either mine or those on the More than Writers’ blog to which I am a contributor. I sometimes interact with others, but not many people reply to most of my tweets.

Since I joined, Twitter has changed from 140 to 280 characters. I could usually say what I wanted in the original number of characters. I have just about become used to the longer Tweets. I also find the Add a Tweet facility quite useful as one can produce a thread of tweets all at once. I have begun to add descriptions to my photos for those with impaired or limited vision. Tweetdeck is very useful for Twitter chats, such as #wildflowerhour.

As I have followed more people on Twitter the number of posts I have liked compared to the number of my tweets (including retweets) has increased.

I perhaps spend too much time scrolling through Twitter. However I do not watch TV, so I regard Twitter as my entertainment.